Hunger Hides

November 10, 2012 04:33 PM
Hunger Hides

The danger in hunger is not just for the hungry

Food insecurity is an issue that stretches beyond urban areas; it is prevalent in rural communities
across the U.S., too. Regardless of where it resides, hunger—and its ramifications—is often  hidden.

At the 2012 Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium held in Des Moines, Iowa, in mid-October, Princess Haya bint Al Hussein of Jordan brought that point home in a powerful presentation. While she’s never gone to bed hungry herself, seeing the face of hunger in person ignited a passion in her to fight food insecurity.

The princess was one of more than 1,500 people vested in solving  food insecurity from 70 nations who attended the symposium, a global discussion on food and agriculture held in conjunction
with the World Food Prize.

Hunger is a much larger issue than not knowing where your next meal will come from, Princess Haya emphasized. "The danger in hunger is not just for the hungry," she said.

She quoted the late Norman Borlaug, saying, "If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace."

In one of the most ironic points made during the week of activities, the princess noted that while Americans spend more than $50 billion annually on diet foods, less than $3 billion of U.S. food aid goes to families in Darfur, Mali and Bangladesh.

The root of the issue. Around the world, it’s  critical to not only work to feed the hungry but to develop a deeper understanding of the barriers and solutions to hunger solutions. A new tool, the Global Food Security Index, commissioned by DuPont, helps accomplish that by capturing the
impact of changes in food prices.

"This innovative new tool is going to help us better understand the root causes of hunger," said James Borel, executive vice president of DuPont. "The ramifications of this year’s drought are far-reaching. Knowing where the impact is the greatest can help focus our collective efforts where
they are needed most."

The 2012 Global Agricultural Productivity Report (GAP Report) released at the event shows that productivity is increasing around the world, but not quickly enough. The greatest gaps, according to research by Global Harvest Initiative (GHI), are in East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

"The 2012 GAP Report determines that we cannot meet future global food demand unless  agricultural produc-tivity increases are achieved in every region of the world," said Margaret Zeigler, executive director of GHI.

Many agribusinesses are investing in developments in lagging regions, particularly Africa. Syngenta, Novus International, Monsanto, DuPont and John Deere are among the companies with efforts there.

"Syngenta is helping to develop a $1 billion business in Africa, investing $500 million and putting 700 people on the ground to play a role in the transformation of the continent," said Kavita  Prakash-Mani, head of food security agenda for the company.

The investment will be used to put the new employees in place; develop distribution channel networks, logistics and local production facilities; and increase access to technology.

Many of the initiatives are based on collaborative ag development. Novus, for example, recently helped establish a $50 million poultry project in Chad to create a chicken-to-plate effort.

"I see more collaboration among competitive companies to leverage technologies in a positive way," said James Gerardot, executive director for global marketing at Novus.

Increasing productivity depends on innovation and technology. "Clearly, 70% to 80% of the solution to fill the gap in doubling food can be met with technology—doing it better with less," said Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco.

Princess Haya captured the sentiment of the event when she said: "Hunger has always been part of our past. It does not have to be part of our future."

Breakfast Honors FFA Hunger Fighters

ffa food

The Cedar Key, Fla., FFA chapter was honored at the Farmers Feeding the World (FFW) breakfast held at the World Food Prize event. An early morning crowd heard from Lauren and Sarah Bartholemy, sisters who worked with fellow chapter members and adviser Dennis Voyles to use their $2,500 grant to launch several hunger-relief efforts in their community.

Sharing the passion and enthusiasm of the FFAers was the perfect way to showcase the success of the FFA Food For All grants funded by FFW with a matching contribution from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The grants helped 140 FFA chapters in 34 states start hunger-related projects.

The grants were the catalyst for 10,510 FFA members to serve 138,411 volunteer hours and form 101 new community groups. In the end, 49,441 community members were served.

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